Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: (Geneon Entertainment) FUNimation Entertainment
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: 16 and Up
Release Date: Available Now
Shoot first and forget the questions … that’s how it’s done in Black Lagoon.
Some people can go their whole without ever having a gun pointed at their head but, unfortunately for Japanese salary man Rokuro Okajima, this is not the case for him. What was suppose to be a simple overseas assignment for his company turns out to be a kidnapping when a black man named Dutch and an attractive half-Chinese woman named Revy takes him hostage after recovering a disk from him. Things go from bad to really messed up when Rokuro discovers that the company he works for was prepared to write him off as dead.
Oh, it doesn’t stop there because the same Japanese corporation hires mercenaries to take care of Rokuro and the kidnappers that get around in an old WWII PT-boat called the Black Lagoon. You see Dutch, Revy and their tech-savvy crewmate named Benny are pirates as well as couriers for the criminal underworld in Southeast Asia. Rokuro doesn’t quite understand how he manages to survive a shootout in a bar in the little city of Roanpur or how he keeps the Black Lagoon from being sunk by an attack helicopter but not only does he earn the nickname Rock but he also becomes a member of the Lagoon Traders when Revy offers him a job with them.
Rock has always been a bit of pushover as a working man in Tokyo and he finds himself having a hard time easing into his new life. On top of the fact that Revy is always kicking him around, the crew gets into trouble again when Dutch crosses an Thai mob who tries to take the Black Lagoon down. It is during an attack that Rock sees why they call Revy “Two Hands” seeing as she practically takes on the gang on her own dual-wielding a gun in each hand.
Black Lagoon: Season One Box Set contains 12 episodes from the first season but you’ll be surprised how jam-packed an episode of this show can be and, like the scene I just described above, there’s no shortage of blood. The episodes also tell a deep and involving tale that sees the characters evolve right before our eyes thanks to Rock joining the group. In the first disc of the four-DVD set (the fourth DVD contains special features such as an interview with the English cast and crew), we find the Lagoon Traders hired to reclaim an old painting that was lost in a German U-boat that was sunk during World War II. During the recovery of the painting, it’s Rock that forces Revy to recall her past and thus sends her on a ruthless killing spree when they go up against neo-Nazis also after the painting.
In Episode 7, Rock even confronts Revy about the incident in the German submarine, which leads to a massive argument that actually redefines their relationship as well as Revy’s feeling for Rock. It’s moments like this that flesh out the character better than their actions or tough talk (there’s loads of profanity in this series). The series isn’t afraid to show its fun side such as the episodes that have the crew transporting the son of a Colombian drug cartel lord while trying to keep the kid’s maid from slaughtering them. Watching Roberta the maid blow holes into Colombian gangsters with a supped-up umbrella/shotgun is hilarious.
The season ends with an episode that has the crew accepting a job from Mister Chang of the Chinese Triad who has come across a Bulgarian trying to sell drugs in his part of the city only to offer an important briefcase as a going away present. As it turns out, the contents of the briefcase concern a terrorist faction that will do anything to get it back. As the crew attempts to take the contents to US military base in the area, Rock is captured by one of the group’s leaders that happens to be Japanese. Revy stages a rescue with the help of a coked-up Irishman and a Chinese-English woman with a fondness for knives.
There’s certainly never a dull moment in Black Lagoon whether it’s the wonderfully animated gunfights or scenes that are over-the-top fun such as when Revy and the killer maid Roberta get into a fistfight. The characters in the series are also interesting such as Balalaika, an ex-Russian military commander that runs the Moscow Hotel that covers as a front for the Russian mafia.
If its action you’re looking for in your anime then look no further than Black Lagoon: Season One Box Set. It’s one of those straight up, whiskey-soaked, bullet-filled action shows that’s unapologetic and vicious like Revy herself. There’s really never a dull moment in any of the 12 episodes and you’ll quickly find yourself zipping through this set wanting more in the end. We definitely could not recommend this one enough.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Salary man Rokuro Okajima takes a business trip outside of his bubble in Tokyo and becomes a member of a pirate/courier group calling themselves the Lagoon Traders. Now known as Rock, we follow him as he helps his new friends take out mobsters, mercenaries, take on a killer maid as well as a terrorist group. The bullets will fly.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The quality of the video isn’t bad at all and this is really good considering the fact that the animation is striking and nicely detailed. There’s just something awesome about seeing Roanpur in motion and the action sequences are some of the best.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The English dub and Japanese voice work is great stuff but if you want a more believable experience it’s best to watch this series in English. The original score is loud and rocking at times and wonderfully mellow in others. “Red Faction” isn’t a bad opening tune but I love the more dramatic instrumental closing music.
Aside from the fact that all the discs come with previews, the fourth disc is packed with nice extras such as an interview with the English production staff, a Mell music video of the opening theme song “Red Faction” as well as a few promotional videos. Oh, and the Box Set comes in a nifty tin case.
The Season One Box Set of Black Lagoon is a treat well worth savoring if you like an action anime series that’s hardcore, loud and brilliantly fun. There’s a lot to like about a series filled with gorgeously visceral gunfights, a cast of genuine bad asses and great stories to keep action junkies very happy.